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Elderly woman dies in house fire

By the time firefighters got to the scene of a house fire southeast of Fulton, little remained of the structure. Authorities say the body of the owner, 84-year-old Cristine Witt, was found in the rubble.

By the time firefighters got to the scene of a house fire southeast of Fulton, little remained of the structure. Authorities say the body of the owner, 84-year-old Cristine Witt, was found in the rubble. Photo by Don Norfleet.

The body of 84-year-old Cristine Witt, Fulton, was found in the debris of her home that burned to the ground early Friday morning.

Witt lived alone in a remote area of Callaway County, about seven miles southeast of Fulton at 6799 County Road 113.

“No one lived close to the house that is in a rather remote area. The fire could have burned a long time. The house was totally destroyed when firemen arrived,” said

Callaway County Sheriff Dennis Crane.

Mike Shrout, assistant chief of the Callaway County Central Fire Protection District, said the Callaway County Emergency Operations Center received a 911 call about the fire at 6:51 a.m. Friday.

“A neighbor saw smoke and reported it. But when firemen arrived, the house had burned to the ground. It took us only about one-half hour to knock down all of the flames,” Shrout said.

Shrout said the cause of the fire is undetermined. “There was so much complete destruction it is difficult to determine the exact cause,” he said.

A relative who lives nearby said the home had four large pillars on the front and was believed to have been built in the 1800s. The concrete base of the front porch pillars remained amid the smoking debris.

“In the debris, we found collectible items, and we also found some square metal nails that were used in homes built in the 1800s,” Shrout said.

“Relatives said she had a wood furnace and sometimes heated the house with space heaters instead of bothering with the wood furnace,” Shrout said.

The Callaway County Sheriff’s Department and the State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. An autopsy of the body found in the debris is planned today.

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